Louisiana Law on Safety Standards for Abortion Centers Faces New Lawsuit
by Steven Ertelt
September 21, 2010
Baton Rouge, LA (LifeNews.com) — A group of Louisiana abortion businesses not wanting to abide by a new state law that allows the health department to better hold them accountable for meting health and safety standards has filed a lawsuit against the law with the help of a New York-based pro-abortion legal group.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit for the abortion centers claiming the Department of Health and Hospitals should not be allowed more assertive powers under the law to revoke licenses for the abortion facilities.
CRR filed the suit in federal court in New Orleans and claims the law deprives the abortion businesses of the same rights legitimate medical clinics enjoy and encourages the state health department to discriminate against them.
"This law leaves abortion facilities vulnerable to arbitrary and inconsistent treatment by the health department and ultimately harms women’s health instead of protecting it," said Bonnie Scott Jones, a CRR attorney, according to a Bloomberg report.
Five abortion centers and an abortion practitioner are listed as plaintiffs and they include the Hope Medical Group for Women abortion center.
That’s the one that states officials revoked the medical license for after an investigation found it had violations posing "significant health and safety risks to clients."
Bruce D. Greenstein, Health Secretary for the State of Louisiana, said, "The findings of the Department’s survey included several egregious safety violations and at least one resulting in immediate jeopardy. The Department’s conclusion was that women visiting this facility would have their health and safety compromised."
But a state judge lifted the emergency suspension order issued by the Louisa Department of Health and Hospitals closing the Shreveport abortion center.
State Judge District Judge R. Michael Caldwell ruled the abortion business can reopen for business even though it has not fixed the problems that made it a danger to the public.
Greenstein said he is upset the judge did not seek any input from his department or those who found the violations of state standards.
"So, today, we are very disappointed that the judge would put the special interests of this abortion facility over the health and safety of women. This order was signed without any notification to us and without any effort to hear from medical professionals about the risk to the facility’s clients posed by the violations our inspectors found," he said. "We will continue to fight to protect Louisiana residents and to shut down activities that put women in harm."
A hearing is scheduled for today, when a decision will be made on whether to uphold the abortion center’s suspension.
Dorinda Bordlee, the vice president of the Bioethics Defense Fund, commented on the lawsuit in a statement to LifeNews.com.
"By tying up this common-sense health regulation in federal court, the Center for Reproductive Rights shows that they are more concerned with profits for their abortion clinic clients than in the health and safety of women who are misled to believe that abortion is their only choice," she said.
Benjamin Clapper of Louisiana Right to Life commented on the suspension.
"We are not looking great, but still have a shot. I do not think it is coincidental that all the kick off rallies [for the next 40 Days for Life campaign] will be on the same day as the hearing in Baton Rouge," Clapper said.
The health department said it found the Hope Medical Group for Women abortion center failed to ensure a physician performed a physical exam of the mother prior to the abortion and failed to properly monitor vital signs of patients under anesthesia.
It also did not have proper procedures in place for administering anesthesia and failed to have properly trained medical professionals administering anesthesia and engaging in other medical procedures related to it.
The suspension was the first case of a Louisiana abortion center closed under the legislation, authored by Representative Fred Mills (D-Parks) and strongly supported by Louisiana Right to Life Federation, which was inspired by then DHH Secretary Alan Levine.
The Louisiana health department shut down a New Orleans abortion center in January for putting women’s health at risk.
Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From LifeNews.com
Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report Receive a free daily email report from LifeNews.com with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.